The effectiveness of your therapist depends largely upon how carefully you select him or her. There are several important things to keep in mind when comparing therapists.
- Don’t settle – At the outset, decide that you’re not going to settle for just anyone. You might hear that “They’re all about the same…who you get doesn’t really make much difference.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
- Recognize weakness of the internet – Although a great source of names, anyone can claim to know anything on the internet. There is no assurance that a therapist has whatever knowledge or experience s/he claims to have. No proof is required and no investigation takes place. Sites that offer a list of therapists that have been “verified” have only checked to see that the therapists are licensed, as required by law.
- Confirm experience – Finding an experienced therapist is important because, without one, you are not receiving effective treatment. Several types of experience are important:
- Life experience – Evaluate whether or not the therapist has the maturity and basic knowledge to understand your situation and issues.
- Clinical experience – Consider a professional who has developed a comprehensive understanding of mental health through full-time employment in a variety of settings with teams of colleagues.
- Specialized experience – Assure that the practitioner has acquired in-depth skills through specific training and repeated exposure to the issues relevant to your circumstances, and that s/he is not a generalist who purports to know how to handle virtually any situation.
- Pick someone compatible – Select someone who matches your style, whom you can relate to, whose professional perspective makes sense to you, and whom you can trust.
- Convenience – Find someone who is relatively convenient. Don’t underestimate the burden of driving miles across town or having to meet at a consistently inconvenient time.